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Ground-Breaking Decision – Limited Company Can Bring A Claim For Discrimination

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) has held in the case of EAD Solicitors v Abrams UKEAT/0054/15/DM that a limited company can bring a direct discrimination claim.

Mr Abrams was the principal shareholder and director of Garry Abrams Limited (‘GAL’). GAL was a member of EAD Solicitors limited liability partnership. A clause in the partnership agreement stated that every member must retire at the end of the year that they reach 62 years old. When Mr Abrams turned 62, EAD Solicitors required that he stop working and accordingly ceased to pay any further share of the profits to GAL.

Mr Abrams asserted that GAL had suffered a detriment due to its association with him and claimed unlawful direct associative discrimination.

The EAT rejected the respondent’s argument that only an individual could raise a claim for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 (‘EqA2010’) because only an individual could have a protected characteristic. Whilst the EAT held that the treatment complained of must be linked to the protected characteristic of an individual it was noted that the treatment itself can be suffered by any ‘person’. The EAT decided that on a strict interpretation of the legislation ‘persons’ should be construed as meaning natural or legal persons throughout the EqA2010.

Whilst the facts of this case are unusual, this decision may have opened the flood gates for companies to bring claims for unlawful discrimination.

If you would like any further information on this please contact Rachel Mathieson of Druces LLP’s Employment team.

This note is not intended as legal advice. It is guidance only and reflects the law as at 2 October 2015.